Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Green Jello Salad

This past weekend was Lehigh-Lafayette, the most played rivalry in sports. Nathan and I are alumni of Lehigh University, so we were excited to return to cheer our team to victory. Before the game, in American tradition, we celebrate with tailgates. In the past few years, we've done tailgates with Nathan's fraternity, but this year we decided that we were a few too many years outside of graduating to be drinking with college freshman.

Luckily, our friends agreed and also offered to host "old person tailgates"! They also made some fabulous meats--chicken, ribs, and brisket. They were soooo good! I made side dishes for the occasion including my 10-layer dip that I shared yesterday. Unfortunately, I once again managed not to take any pictures of my other sides and so have none to share :(.
Old People Tailgates!

With this week being American Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share a recipe for my family's traditional jello-salad which we eat every year and we simply refer to as "green jello". This is something I insist on for both Thanksgiving and Christmas because it's pleasantly tart, a little creamy, and feels like a dessert even though it can be made in a fairly healthy way.

Green Jello
mine shifted as I returned it to the fridge leaving me with a lot of fruit on one side... still tastes good!

2 packages lime jello (you can use sugar free)
1 20oz can pineapple chunks
about 1/2 Cup marachino cherries cut in half
1 package cream cheese softened (you can use low/non fat)

Mix jello powder with package recommended hot water (for two boxes, that's 2 cups). Using an electric mixer (stand or hand held) mix in the cream cheese. The hot water will help the cream cheese melt into the mixture.

Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice. In place of the package recommended cold water, use the same amount in pineapple juice. If you don't have enough juice, add in water to make up the difference. I find that the 20oz can has a little over 1 cup of juice. Mix into the jello-cream cheese mixture. The cream cheese in the mixture will create a sort of frothy foam. This is ok.

In an 8x8 square pan add about 1/4 cup of pineapple chunks and 1/4 cup of your marachino cherries over the bottom of the pan spreading them out so that each scoop will have some of both. Pour the jello mixture over top. Let it sit, covered, in the fridge for about an hour. Add in the rest of you pineapple and cherries over top.

Cover and return to the fridge. Let sit overnight or until fully set.
Breakfast! Yeah.. I took the piece with most cherries.

This is one of my favorite things, but I never actually eat is as a side dish (I don't like it when it mixes with the other flavors on my plate). Instead, I'll eat it as a late night snack or as breakfast the next morning ('cause it's fruit!). Though I know it might sound a little iffy, but I promise that it's delicious!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10-Layer Dip

Growing up, I moved around a lot starting out in Canada, going across the mid-west and landing in Tampa, Florida my sophomore year of high school. Previous to Tampa, any club or team that needed to raise money would have bake sale with the obligatory cookies, brownies etc. (on a side note a lot of schools don't allow home made baked goods at sales anymore which is ridiculous!). But when I moved to Tampa all of a sudden we started having "dip" sales. For $2 one would purchase a styrofoam cup with a scoop of dip in the bottom and a handful of tortilla chips on top. I'd never even heard of seven layer dip before then, and now it is a staple in my easy party snack diet.

And I am pleased to announce that I have improved upon the high school recipe by changing and adding layers.

tada layers!
Ten Layer Dip 


1 can refried beans (I use fat free)
1 can green chilies (diced)
1 can Mexican corn
1 lb ground beef
1 4oz can sliced black olives
2 avocados, ripe
packet of guacamole mix
jar salsa
2 fresh roma tomatoes
sour cream (I use reduced fat)
1 1/2 cup Mexican-style shredded cheese
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp oregano
pinch cayenne pepper
bag of tortilla chips

ingredients assemble!


Brown ground beef in a non stick pan. Drain off the fat. Stir the spices in to the meat. Set aside to cool slightly. Prepare the guacamole with mix and avocados according the mix directions (alternatively you can buy prepared guacamole or make your own... I choose mix for this particular dip because it's economical and easy)

Put the refried beans into a small pan and warm over medium low heat. When it starts to get a little bit thin and is heated through, it's ready to be spread over the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan.

Spread with green chilies, drained Mexican corn, ground beef, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, chopped fresh tomatoes, and drained  sliced olives. The order isn't super important with the exception of not putting the guacamole on the top ('cause it will turn brown and gross). I like to top with the sour cream because I feel like it sort of "seals" everything and the cheese, tomato, and olives look pretty on top of it.

You can eat this right away or cover with plastic wrap and it refrigerate until you need to serve. It's best to let it sit at room temperature for a little while or else the refried beans will be too thick and hard and will break your tortilla chips when you try to dip them--tragic!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stromboli Two Ways

This past weekend Nathan and I headed down to southern Delaware for Punkin Chunkin  which is an annual event in which a variety of engineering marvels compete to see which can fling a pumpkin the furthest. Last year we were not 100% prepared for the tailgating style of the event and were somewhat lacking in foodstuffs. This year we decided to rectify the situation to the extreme.

Between the group, we brought two crock pots of chili, 4 bags of chips, a bowl of pumpkin dip with a box of ginger snaps, and a mass of sandwich making stuff.

I guess sandwiches were the most boring of the options, so we ended up with a pack of salami, turkey, provolone, pepperjack... overall way more sandwich stuff than Nathan and I would ever eat. And I thought: what could I make these things + other stuff I already have?

Answer: Stromboli.

Stromboli is a hybrid calzone and pizza. I made one that I would consider "traditional" flavors and one that was less so.


Frozen bread dough (two loaves)
Jarred spaghetti sauce
1 egg
Italian Seasoning
Garlic Powder

For Traditional Stromboli
About half a package of hillshire farms thin sliced salami
5 oz provolone cheese (mine was pre-sliced... about 1 oz per slice)
1 green bell pepper chopped
1/2 onion chopped
mmmm traditional tastes

For Turkey Cheese Stromboli
1/2 lb thin sliced turkey
5 oz pepper jack cheese (mine was pre-sliced... about 1 oz per slice)
1 package mushrooms sliced
1/8 cup sliced black olives
yet another use for turkey lunch meat!


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Let dough defrost according to package directions. Roll into a long strip about 6 inches wide. Spread about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce to within half an inch of the edge. Top with sliced meat.

Pre-cook vegetables (peppers, onions, mushrooms) in a pan until crisp tender. Spread lengthwise along half the dough along with cheese. I recommend tearing your cheese slices into smaller pieces . If you have a block, then grating is the easiest way to go.

Fold dough in half lengthwise and pinch dough together to seal. Move stromboli to a baking sheet. Brush the outside with the beaten egg and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Cut three slits in the down for steam release (your stromboli will explode if you do not do this)

my stromboli were really long... so they are crescent shaped
Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Allow to cool about 5 minutes before slicing into 2" wide slices.
golden brown deliciousness...
These were easy and delicious. Plus they are versatile. Easy to make into a full blown meal or serve as an appetizer. They taste good at room temperature. I would recommend having some bowls of warmed tomato sauce for dipping to accompany these regardless.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween I: Spoooky Ghost Cookies and Swamp Thing Wings


It's the best holiday all year. It's a time when you can dress up as anything that you want and are allowed to take candy from strangers. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Well if you live in the northeast, you'll know that we got snowed on which was not so Halloweeny. But that didn't stop me from making a couple of themed treats for Sunday Snack Day. We didn't actually watch any football because the Packers had a bi-week (is that even how you spell that?). I mean... I don't ever watch any football, but regardless.

I made some rolled sugar cookies with frosting in the shape of Spoooooky ghosts and tasty pumpkins. These were supposed to be for a party that got snowed out and Nathan and I did not eat all of them!

We also had some swamp thing wings which were good... though I think I might make them less swamp thingy next time!

Sugar Cookies with Frosting

some of my best attempts at frosting


1 1/2 Cups softened butter
2 1/4 Cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 Cup powdered sugar


Cream the sugar and butter together. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder together. Slowly add the flour into the butter mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight. I would wrap it in 4 separate balls, that way when you are rolling out dough, you can keep the dough you're not working with chilled.

Preheat your oven to 400. I actually did it to 395 because my oven runs a little hot, and I find that if I put it as hot as baked goods call for they always burn on the bottoms.

Roll out your dough on a piece of parchment paper to about 1/4 inch (this will make a soft cookie, roll thinner if you want it to be crisp).  This dough is pretty sticky so "flour" your parchment paper etc. with the powdered sugar. The dough is not super sweet, so the extra sugar is nice and also won't make your cookies extra floury.

Use a cutter of your choice and cut your cookies all at once. Peel away the excess dough. Move the parchment paper to your cookie sheet. This keeps your cookies from getting misshapen when you transfer them.

Bake about 5 minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

haunted pumpkin patch

1 Cup powdered sugar
2 tsp milk
1 T corn syrup
extract of your choice (or none)
food colorings of choice

This is about 1/5 of the frosting you will need for the dough above. I made a bunch of small batches to make the different colors.


Mix all ingredients until smooth. Add more corn syrup to make more liquid, more sugar to make more solid. This is about right for the main portion of cookie. For details, make thicker

Spread with a knife or pipe with decorator tips. Allow to harden. Cookies can be stacked once hardened.

Swamp Thing Wings
these would look more appetizing without the food dye...

Package raw chicken wings, separated at joint, discard or save wing tips for stock
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 inch fresh ginger grated
2 cloves garlic minced
1 T oyster sauce
1/4 tsp black food dye
1 T cornstarch (optional)

Mix together all ingredients. Add chicken. Let marinade for at least an hour (I think overnight would be better), stirring periodically.

Heat a wok or deep skillet. Add in chicken, reserving marinade. Stir until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

If you'd like a thicker sauce, add cornstarch to reserved marinade. Stir into the hot wok until sauce is thickened.

These are really messy and honestly look kinda gross... but it's Halloween and that's kind of the point right? If I had any, I would have sprinkled some sliced scallions on top of these before serving. They do make a spoooky appetizer!